Italian Soprano Antonia Cifrone talks about bringing her powerful voice to the role of one of the most powerful women in the history of Britain, Queen Elizabeth.
Interpreting the role of Queen Elisabeth in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda (Opera North’s Mary Stuart), is a big responsibility, particularly when I am an Italian – I know what she means to the British public and to the history of Great Britain. I think she was a great Queen and an incredibly strong woman. Her life history and experiences made her such a difficult and complicated personality, but she was a great and good Queen for England. When you think that her reign lasted happily for 40 years and this she succeeded without a man at her side!
As I am preparing for this role and going through the rehearsals, I am finding that because of her high historical stature and the respect and awe she commanded, it is difficult to express her feelings, her thoughts, her deeds – because so much of her emotions she kept away from public life and she kept concealed. So to find myself trying to decipher her intentions is indeed a big responsibility – especially to an English audience. I hope I will be a good Queen. I think I will be.
Currently we are in the rehearsal room and have two more weeks until the orchestra will be brought in. So everyday we rehearse with the repetiteur, with some props and some items of the costumes we will wear and everyday I feel and act more and more like my alter ego of Elizabeth. I just hope I don’t start commanding a coffee in, say, Caffè Nero like her!
Donizetti’s music is stupenda, this type of bel canto music is so rich and very easy on the ear. Whilst it might sound simple in its melodies, it is very stretching for a singer, as you really do use every note in your repertoire. It is an enjoyable challenge to be singing this role, which is a first in my career as a soprano and to be back in Leeds, a city I find welcoming and full of life.